The UAE and Iraq have announced that they will work together on reconstruction and investment projects totalling $3 billion, according to a joint statement from the two governments, released on Sunday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s visit to the UAE strengthens the “bridge of ties” between the two countries, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces said.
The UAE has played a leading role in the multinational effort to rebuild the partially devastated city of Mosul, with a particular focus on restoring the city's ancient cultural heritage, including the famous Al Nuri Mosque and the leaning Al Habda minaret.
In 2018, the United Nation’s cultural agency, Unesco and the UAE teamed up to rebuild the 800-year-old Al Tahera church.
Later they extended the project to include the restoration of Al Saa’a Church in the northern Iraqi city.
"The two sides agreed on the importance of developing and strengthening cooperation in economic fields, developing trade and increasing trade exchange, encouraging the flow of investment between the two countries, inviting businessmen from the two countries for exchange visits, establishing the Iraqi-Emirati Business Council, and facilitating all measures that serve the interest of the two countries", the joint statement said.
"In this context, the UAE announced its investment of three billion dollars for the brotherly Republic of Iraq."
Trust and loyalty
Mr Al Kadhimi landed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday on his first official visit to the UAE. He led a delegation of top Iraqi officials including Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.
“You have honoured us in being here, we have built our relationship based on trust and loyalty. We know that Iraq is going through tough times, we will support you and we are close to each other, in each other’s hearts,” Sheikh Mohamed said while speaking to Mr Al Kadhimi, in a video released by the UAE government.
Iraq is trying to diversify its economy to be less dependent on oil and the country currently exports dates and bitumen – for road surfacing – to the UAE.
The UAE-based Crescent Petroleum operates in the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq and has looked at the prospect of signing energy contracts in the south of the country.
“Sheikh Zayed, founder of the UAE, was the one who started this relationship, it was strong, prosperous and we are continuing on this road and this visit proves that,” he said.
“I’m optimistic about the future,” Sheikh Mohamed said.
Sheikh Mohamed told Mr Al Kadhimi that he wishes “from the bottom of his heart” that the relationship between Baghdad and Abu Dhabi prospers.